Posts Tagged ‘ Oslo ’

Don’t Go There – Six Places to Avoid Before You Die

According to people who travel, everywhere is brilliant. They return home with tale after slightly-irritating tale of mind-blowing experience and unforgettable adventure. “Oh you must go!” they say. And sometimes they are right. But sometimes they are not…

Travel photography from Ensenada and Tijuana, Mexico by Fat Tony.

Tijuana, Mexico

Every year tourists go missing in Tijuana. They wander off the beaten track, disappear, and become a statistic to be downplayed by the Mexican Tourist Board. Serves them right, you might say – those reckless enough to stray into the dark corners of a crime-ridden Mexican border town deserve everything they get. This criticism has some merit, but fails to take into account the hideousness of Tijuana’s beaten track, which is enough to drive anyone into the welcoming arms of a drug cartel.

Avenida Revolucion – Tijuana’s gringo epicentre – specialises in providing a certain type of fun: the type that really isn’t. Everything on the ‘Revo’ takes place within a miasma of throbbing neon and hysterical hawkers for whom ‘no’ does not mean ‘no’, it means ‘please follow, annoy, and ultimately insult me’.

Those who attempt to take refuge in a bar may be confronted by Tijuana’s esoteric approach to pricing, whereby visitors enter an establishment having been promised ‘Ten Beers for Ten Dollars!’ and leave having been charged fifty for five. Other highlights include drunk Americans, loud Americans, puking Americans, and hapless donkeys painted to look like zebras.

In fairness it’s not all bad – the city boasts an excellent cultural centre, and just to the south there’s a rather splendid country called Mexico. Tijuana also succeeds in making nearby San Diego look slightly better in comparison, which is not an insignificant achievement.


Naples, Italy

First impressions are notoriously unreliable. For example, wisdom and experience would tell a person exiting Naples train station to ignore their initial misgivings – areas around rail termini are always a bit depressing, right? It can’t all be this bad. Unfortunately on this occasion wisdom and experience would be wrong.

Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi – a sprawling, chaotic void of ugliness – offers those arriving by train their first confrontation with Naples. As with elsewhere in the city, cars rule the roost here – the cacophony of horns muffled only slightly by the polluted air – and within a couple of Italian profanities visitors will learn that Neapolitan drivers stop for nothing, including red lights.

Those who forge deeper into Naples in search of the ‘nice bit’ will forge in vain. Its wilful disregard of cleanliness and civic pride is almost admirable, but ultimately the incessant battle of crowd and vehicle, the noise, the ubiquitous graffiti and dirt just prove sapping.

“Sapping?” I hear a dissenting voice say. This is the famous Napoli ‘pazzia’ – the crazy spirit of the city that seduces visitors and makes them rediscover life! And admittedly if rudeness, grime, pickpockets and rubbish piled metres high in the streets make you feel alive then Naples will be nothing short of an elixir.

As redeeming features go, Napoli’s pizzas and ice creams aren’t bad. Unfortunately the city’s culinary attractions also had the misfortune to feature heavily in Eat Pray Love, without doubt the worst film this side of Gigli, and are therefore now as sullied as the rest of this Mafia hole.


Santa Cruz, USA

In a way it’s reassuring to know that Americans can do tacky, soul-withering seaside towns just as well as the Irish and Brits. The word ‘California’ usually conjures up images of beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places – a semi-mythical zone where dreams supposedly come true. And if you dream of grim beaches, morbid fairgrounds and motel monotony then Santa Cruz will confirm this stereotype.

Some say that Americans struggle with irony, and those of us who reject this thesis should not rush to call Santa Cruz as a witness for the defence. While the Blackpool’s of this world bask in a kiss-me-quick, self-mocking kind of tawdriness, Santa Cruz is woefully bereft of such European cynicism, and apparently genuinely believes itself to be good.

It is not. The pride of the town is its boardwalk, which is meant to revive rose-tinted memories of a different era, a time when vacations were all about dance halls and candyfloss. Unfortunately it just comes across as a sickly cliché, restored to within an inch of its life in order to extract the sentimental dollar – in short the kind of pre-packed nostalgia created on a boardroom flipchart.

But then again, if there’s one thing small town America does well, it is bars with all the personality and atmosphere of a doctor’s waiting room. Santa Cruz supplies an ample number of these establishments, complete with the dreaded karaoke machine. And while karaoke can be entertaining, in Santa Cruz it tends to involve earnest renditions of Tammy Wynette or Garth Brooks songs, rendering it about as much fun as the rest of the town.


Townsville, Australia

A well-trodden tourist route, the East Coast of Australia offers stunning scenery, adventure, picture-postcard beaches and buzzing towns. How Townsville managed to crash this party is anyone’s guess. For those departing Cairns this is the first stop on the road to Sydney, and most will wish they hadn’t.

There is nothing particularly horrendous about Townsville – it is simply a place where it is difficult to imagine anything happening. Ever. Perhaps being given such a stunningly generic name has, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, rendered the city a stale, characterless non-entity.

But while its real name is appropriate, its nickname more poetically captures the aesthetics of the place:  ‘Brownsville’ largely consists of dust, industrial estates and closed shops. There is a massive army base, which gives a military edge to the stagnant nightlife, and a waterfront area – which is notable for being near some water.

For many young European backpackers, bedazzled by Australia’s sparkling, lush cities, Townsville will be the first realisation that, yes, even Australia has crap towns. In fact those heading south will soon find themselves in another one – Rockhampton takes all the mediocre bits of Townsville, adds a couple of ugly bridges, and does it all over again. 


Lima, Peru

Apparently the Dickensian sea fog that squats over Lima does occasionally lift, and on such occasions the city may well be a more appealing prospect. Unfortunately, for the rest of the time, Peru’s capital is murky, claustrophobic, anarchic and miserable.

Wildly overpopulated, Lima creaks under the strain of 8 million souls. A constant boom of traffic fills the downtown air, while negotiating the crowded pavements requires an exhausting level of vigilance.

Coastal zones, such as the affluent Miraflores district, seem to represent more standard tourist fare, but the skyscraper hotels and designer outlets are so bizarrely incongruous to Lima’s overall feel that these areas feel more like some ghastly Hollywood backdrop transplanted into a seething South American sprawl.

Most of Lima’s architecture is brittle and foreboding, and what remains of the original colonial streetscape has long since capitulated under a mask of pollution. Glimpses of greenery and beauty occur, but their fleeting presence is but a sad, soulful chord in an atonal symphony of chaos.

And all the while, the fog keeps rolling in….


Oslo, Norway

It’s entirely appropriate that this selection of disappointments should end with a damp squib – a damp, dark, extortionate squib. Oslo is quite within its rights to offer little in the way of excitement, but when it compounds this with the highest prices in Europe we are surely entering biscuit-taking territory.

Oslo is one of those places that, struggling to fill even the flimsiest of city guides, shamelessly promotes anything within a 500 mile radius as an ‘attraction’. Ski slopes, fjords, stunning Scandanavian scenery: all part of Oslo’s appeal apparently. Once you get out of Oslo.

Within the city limits recreational options dry up pretty quickly: a couple of fusty galleries and a museum or two. One such building is dedicated to Edvard Munch, the man responsible for perhaps Oslo’s most famous export – The Scream. This painting depicts a man standing on one of the city’s bridges, omitting an existential shriek of despair. Perhaps his flight out of Oslo had been cancelled.

The Case for the Defence

“Tijuana, the town on the ‘most crossed border in the world’ remains a remarkably friendly jungle, a fascinating, vibrant cocktail of cultures that’s fun for people-watching even if you’re not planning on participating.” Lonely Planet

“Naples is not so much a city of sights as just a great place to be, particularly its dense Centro Historico. Spend a couple of days here and you’re likely to be as staunch a defender of the place as its most devoted inhabitants.” Rough Guides

“The beautiful beaches and the year-round summer-like climate play a central role in local culture. Most visitors leave Santa Cruz amazed by the city’s beauty and ambiance.” Wikitravel

“Townsville boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. Combining this glorious sunshine with a relaxed lifestyle and a diversity of attractions, Townsville is the perfect choice for a North Queensland holiday experience.”

“Unfairly undervalued, Lima is a warm and vivid city with much to offer, from magnificent museums to a sparkling nightlife. Above all, Lima’s gastronomic scene is, simply put, superb.” The Peru Guide

“What sets Oslo apart from other European cities is not so much its cultural traditions or its internationally renowned museums as its simply stunning natural beauty.” Fodor’s

Breivik Will Not Appeal But Apologizes For Not Killing More

Anders Breivik has said he will not appeal against his prison sentence for the massacre of 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last year.

At the end of his sentencing hearing on Friday, Breivik said appealing against the judgment would “legitimise” the court.

He also apologised to “militant nationalists” for not having killed more people in the attacks in July last year.

Breivik’s gruesome and defiant statement could mark the end of a legal process that has haunted Norway for 13 months.

Prosecutors said they had not decided whether to appeal the ruling by Oslo’s district court, which declared the right-wing extremist sane enough to be held criminally responsible for attacks “unparalleled in Norwegian history”.

“Since I don’t recognise the authority of the court I cannot legitimise the Oslo district court by accepting the verdict,” Breivik said. “At the same time I cannot appeal the verdict, because by appealing it I would legitimise the court.”

Then, Breivik said he wanted to issue an apology but it was not for the victims, most of them teenagers gunned down in one of the worst peacetime shooting massacres in modern history. “I wish to apologise to all militant nationalists that I wasn’t able to execute more,” Breivik said.

Earlier on Friday, the five-judge panel in the Oslo district court convicted Breivik, 33, of terrorism and premeditated murder and ordered him to be jailed for a period between 10 and 21 years, the maximum allowed under Norwegian law.

Breivik smiled with apparent satisfaction when Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen read the ruling, declaring him sane enough to be held criminally responsible and sentencing him to “preventive detention”, which means it is unlikely he will ever be released.

The sentence brings a form of closure to Norway, which was shaken to its core by the attacks on July 22, 2011, because Breivik’s lawyers said before the verdict that he would not appeal against any ruling that did not declare him insane. But it also means Breivik got what he wanted – a ruling that paints him as a political terrorist instead of a psychotic mass murderer.

Press Association

Norway Gunman may escape prison

Anders Behring Breivik, responsible for the killing of 77 people in Norway four months ago, may escape prison, it has been revealed. The gunman set off a car bomb in Oslo, killing eight people, before heading to the island of Utoeya disguised as a policeman, where he shot dead 69 teenagers.

Behring Breivik has been assessed by psychiatrists, who have concluded that Breivik was insane at the time of the murders. Norwegian website VG stated that Mr Breivik was suffering from “psychosis”, a condition which changed his mental state and dramatically affected his judgement.

This report, which was presented to the Oslo district court this morning, still needs to be examined by a medical commission in order to make sure it meets the professional criteria required. However, if it is accepted as a viable experts’ opinion it could mean that Behring Breivik could not be sentenced to a prison term, but would instead be transferred to a mental institution, where he would undergo psychiatric treatment.

Terrorist Breivik Demands Government Resign

Utoya:Paradise Lost

Norwegian assassin Anders Behring Breivik , the man who has admitted carrying out two separate terrorist attacks over a week ago, has issued a list of demands which his own lawyer brands as “unrealistic”.

Breivik,who was responsible for the death of 77 people during a bomb blast in Oslo and a gun attack on a Labour youth camp on Utoya island, has issued two lists to his lawyer Geir Lippestad.

Lippestad, who last week admitted his client was insane, opened up to the Norwegian people as funerals of the victims are ongoing.

Breivik`s first list contains no unusual elements but it is his second list which has enraged the Norwegian people, who remain in mourning after the most damning attacks in it`s history.

The main provisions of the list are that the Norwegian government,led by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, resign immediately. Breivik also demands that Japanese investigators interrogate him as they “understand the idea and values of honour”.

The right wing extremist has already shown his dislike of the current Labour led government, bombing government quarters in Oslo and attacking the Labour youth camp. Lippestad, who is under close personal security due to the intensity of this case, revealed his clients demands are “unrealistic,far,far from the real world and shows he doesn`t understand how society works.”

Breivik remains in solitary confinement but has agreed to be evaluated by psychiatrists.Norwegian authorities have stated he is being very co-operative and they believe he acted alone as their is as of yet no reason to suggest otherwise.

Eight people were killed when a car bomb exploded outside government buildings in Oslo on 22 July. Within hours of the explosion, Breivik opened fire on people at the youth camp, killing 69 people. The police struggled to apprehend Breivik for some time, due to the distance between Oslo and Utoya, and the lack of special forces near the small island.

Once police arrived on Utoya, the gunman surrendered without fight,believing he had cemented his name among a list of martyrs.